Commonwealth Games Aquatics Centre on time but £13m over budget

A multi-million project to build the Commonwealth Games aquatic centre in Sandwell is on track and on time but will cost nearly £13 million more than first estimated, councillors have been told.

Members of Sandwell Council's cabinet are being asked to agree to signing a £73m deal to complete construction on the sports venue by February 2022, six months before the international sports event begins.

But the bill for the development in Smethwick has increased from £60m when it was first proposed in Janaury 2018.

If the report is passed, Sandwell Council will sign a contract with Wates Construction Ltd to build a 50-metre Olympic-sized competition swimming pool with 1,000 permanent spectator seats with additional seating during the games.

A report to councillors says the company is ‘confident that the delivery timetable can be met, particularly because the early enabling works which included the surface water sewer diversion, new foul sewer, site levelling works and excavation of the competition pool and the diving pool (where risks are most likely to arise) have been either completed or are already under way and are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year’.

The Londonderry playing fields which will be redeveloped for the aquatics centre

The report added: “The venue will also boast a dry-dive facility, 108-station gym, 25-station ladies-only gym, three activity studios, eight-court sports hall, indoor cycling studio, sauna/steam room and café.”

The report adds that costs have increased from the last official estimate of £68m due to additional groundworks and site drainage on the Londonderry Fields site plus rises in expected steel costs and changes in specification and higher than estimated suppliers costings.

The total budget for the venue is £73m – with nearly £27m being paid for by the council.

A Sandwell Council spokesman said: “The development of the aquatics centre will not only help inspire Sandwell residents to get active and live healthier lifestyles, it will also boost the local economy and bring job opportunities to the borough.”

The report will be discussed at Sandwell Council's cabinet meeting on Wednesday and if passed, the authority hopes to sign the final contract on November 26.

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